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Paul Choi, Chicago Lawyer, Will Head Alumni Association

By Mariel A. Klein, Crimson Staff Writer

Paul L. Choi ’86, a Chicago-based lawyer, has been elected president of the Harvard Alumni Association.

A former Crimson editor, Choi will be charged with overseeing Harvard’s vast alumni network. Choi served as the Alumni Association’s vice president for engagement and marketing this past academic year and will succeed Cynthia A. Torres ’80 for a year-long term.

Choi takes the reigns of the association during a University-wide $6.5 billion capital campaign—the largest in Harvard’s history that would be a record in higher education. Despite the huge fundraising push, Choi said in an interview that wooing donors is not his priority.

“It is not a main focus,” Choi said. “I think it complements the capital campaign when we really focus on engaging alumni and reconnecting alumni to Harvard.”

As part of the ongoing capital campaign, the Alumni Association has rolled out its “Your Harvard” event series, which University President Drew G. Faust has headlined, to promote the fundraising drive. These events have drawn hundreds from Chicago to Beijing.

Historically, the head of the Alumni Association is a well-connected or prominent donor, with famous Harvard names such as Thomas W. Lamont, Class of 1892, A. Bronson Thayer ’61, and Carl H. Pforzheimer III ’58 on the roster of former HAA presidents.

For the Alumni Association, the past year was not without a few roadbumps. In October, former HAA vice president Brooks P. Newmark ’80—the favorite for this year’s presidency—resigned in the midst of a sexting scandal in the U.K., where he was a member of Parliament. In April, supporters of environmental activist group Divest Harvard staged a two-day sit-in in the HAA offices protesting Harvard’s investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Choi said he is looking forward to working with Faust and Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Tamara E. Rogers ’74 to manage the Alumni Association.

“It’s about the engagement of alumni back to Harvard, being a resource to students, and connecting people back to the school,” Choi said. “The alumni network is extremely diverse; it’s very stimulating."

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